Wed, 14 Jun 2000

Talent scouting for SEA Games to start at PON, says Arie

JAKARTA (JP): Indonesia's failure to win the overall title in the 1999 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games is a good lesson for the country to better prepare itself before competing in any regional multisports events.

In a bid to avoid a humiliating outcome in the 2001 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, vice chairman of the National Sports Council (KONI) Arie Sudewo said talent scouting for prospective athletes would start at the 15th National Games (PON) in Surabaya.

Arie said a special team led by KONI's official in charge of athletes' development Mochammad Hindarto would observe the scouting process during PON, which runs from next Monday until June 30.

"Pak Hindarto asked each of the 31 organizations whose sports are featured in PON to set up special teams to examine their athletes' form in the event. KONI will coordinate the team," he told reporters on Tuesday.

"One of the team tasks is to spot any potential and talented athletes, and not necessarily the medal winners. The team should be able to see the athletes' ability and that they will play well when given special training."

Arie said the training program for the SEA Games would start after the Sydney Olympics, which is being held from Sept. 15 to Oct. 1. However, KONI has yet to decide on the number of athletes to attend the training.

"The number of athletes will be based on the budget. We have estimated that the SEA Games training program will cost about Rp 100 billion (US$11.63 million) and we can only compress it to Rp 70 billion."

Arie said the Malaysian Olympic Committee had yet to issue a formal decree on the number of sports events to be featured.

For the first time since taking part in the games in 1977, Indonesia finished in third position, following arch rival Thailand and Malaysia by taking home 44 gold, 43 silver and 58 bronze medals. The number is far less than its expectation of 70 gold medals in the Games in Brunei Darussalam.

In 1997, Indonesia benefited from hosting the event, claiming 177 of the 440 gold medals at stake in 33 sports events. With only 21 sports events featured in last year's games, Thailand reigned supreme with 65 gold, 48 silver and 56 bronze medals while Malaysia was second with 57 gold, 45 silver and 42 bronze medals.

KONI blamed the poor result on the short training period of five months and a shortage of funds which prevented the athletes from taking part in overseas events.

Speaking about PON, Arie guaranteed that the event would be opened as scheduled on Monday despite media reports that some venues were not ready to stage the events.

"The venues which have been reported as unprepared for the events will be finished on time. We admit that there is some imperfection, but it's not a big problem. In 1997, when we hosted the SEA Games, the hockey field was finished on the opening day. But the show went on smoothly anyway," he said.

He also said that KONI chairman Wismoyo Arismunandar would brief the referees and judges assigned at PON this weekend to maintain sportsmanship and objectivity in their judgments. (ivy)